The Oasis of Oman: Salalah
15th July 2011, Friday
Salalah is in the south of Oman and the capital city of the Dhofar region. It is considered to be the chief 'Oasis of Oman'; lush green and vibrant, especially during the months of July and August. This pic is taken from outside the Salalah Airport giving a view of the road that leads into the city. We flew to Salalah from Muscat and arrived at our destination at 12:15 p.m. The journey took us an hour and a half, with an addition of an hour check-in time prior to departure.
Dropped our luggage at our apartment and headed out for lunch.
Enjoying our first meal in Salalah at Silver Diamond Restaurant on 23 July Road. We ordered a typical Kerala Non-veg meal (fish curry / fish fry) with beef fry as an additional side dish. Food was served on a 'Banana Leaf' and consists mainly of different kinds of veg dishes apart from the non-veg that we ordered. Some of the main dishes are Sambar, Avial, Rasam, Pickle, and Cabbage along with Buttermilk, Yoghurt, Papadam and Paysam.
Warning: Do not eat this with spoon and fork. Its an insult to the dish and to the cook. Use your fingers. :)
View of the rustic, dry town of Salalah, behind Silver Diamond Restaurant. This is basically how Salalah looks when not by the main roads; dry, dusty and with an 'old-town' look. Most towns (even those on the outskirts of Muscat) in Oman look like this. The desert conditions cannot be overridden, despite the cool temperature that prevails two - three months per year in this region.
Temperature in Salalah during the day: 25C (appx 77 F) and during the night it dropped to around 20C. The climate, when we arrived at Salalah, was wet and drizzly with heavy fog around most of the region, even in the afternoon. It drizzled the entire day.
More fog than drizzle.
We were on our way uphill to Nabi Ayub to view the 'footprint of Prophet Job', who is believed to have lived in this region and left his prints upon the sands of time... or rather molded in rock. Prophet Job is a common religious figure seen in the Christian, Muslim and Jewish texts and known for his endurance of suffering.
Horizontally, the print of a foot can be seen in the center of the rock. Tourists from Muscat and all over the GCC (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Yemen, etc.) come to see this footprint attraction.
There are a lot of tiny,allergy-causing fleas around the greenery of Salalah, that we were advised to guard ourselves against flea-bites. So all of us lathered ourselves with an insect-repellent, 'Jungle Formula'. Seemed to have done its work well, as none of us really suffered from insect bites after application.
In the evening, we had tea at the Hamdah Plaza Hotel. The restaurant is located on the 5th Floor which gives a scenic view of the city of Salalah. Opposite the hotel is Oman's largest Lulu Hypermarket (pic below). City Center is also in this locality.
From the hotel where we had tea, we went to Lulu's to check out the hypermarket and why it was different. Came out with a wallet definitely lighter... and with a new handbag. ;) (don't ask me why I bought it. There has to be a reason if I rack my brains.)
From Lulu's we went to the Salalah Tourism Festival. I was really, really very tired by then, but it was a blast. Enjoyed the whole outing thoroughly. The kids had a blast too with the games and kiddy events. The Salalah Tourism festival is held from the beginning of July till the end of August. People from all over the Middle East drive down to enjoy this 'Khareef Festival'.
A 'Spices' Stall
This is a stall where incense burners are sold along with a variety of perfumes. Small pieces of hot coals are burned at the bottom of the holders while incense or in many cases frankincense is burned.
Oman is one of the prime suppliers of frankincense in the world. Pure frankincense costs an average of USD 100 per kilogram (2.2lbs) Sometimes its even valued at USD 120. Mixed / impure or crude frankincense is available at an average price of USD 20.
By 10 p.m. we were very tired and headed to a Pakistani restaurant somewhere closer to our lodgings. We dined on Mutton Kadai, Tandoori Roti and Rice. A totally awesome meal, and worth every penny. From there we headed to the apartment where we stayed (courtsey - Badr Al Samaa Hospital). All in all, not a minute was really wasted and we made maximum use of our time.
Apparently the best was yet to come....
To be continued....
Sneak-peek into Day 2: The most scenic of all days...